Bombay HC directs Maha gov’t to withdraw pending criminal cases against farmers and social activists

They had been protesting CAA and other government policies; Aurangabad Bench of the HC directs State gov't to file affidavit and submit a report 

Bombay HC

On April 12, 2022, the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court directed the Maharashtra state government to make applications for withdrawal of cases pending against farmers and social activists across the state which were filed in course of agitations/demonstrations, and directed the subordinate courts to decide these applications on a priority basis.

This was in connection with the petition filed by Ajit Babanrao Kale seeking directions against the government to implement the policy decision as per GR (Government Resolution) dated March 14, 2016 and to withdraw the said criminal cases. A division bench of Aurangabad comprising Justices R D Dhanuka and S G Mehare directed the state government to file an affidavit and submit a report for the consideration of the court by June 15.

During the hearing, the petitioner argued that despite various resolutions issued by the state government proposing to withdraw the criminal prosecution against the farmers and social activists, they are not implemented in the right perspective.

Government Pleader, DR Kale submitted a copy of the chart to submit that a committee has taken decisions in some cases to implement those resolutions in right perspective but all the pending proposals could not be decided during the period of pandemic. The submitted chart indicates that the committee has already decided to withdraw 314 cases. He further stated that even though applications are filed before the court dealing with such pending cases which are agreed to be withdrawn, they are not being heard.

Accordingly, the High Court has directed the state government to file applications for withdrawal of prosecution in those pending cases which are already agreed to be withdrawn as recommended by the committee within two weeks from the date of the order. Further, the subordinate courts have been requested to give priority to such applications for withdrawal of prosecution in those cases and to dispose of those cases within two weeks from the date of filing of such applications by the state government.

With respect to the cases in which the committee has taken a decision to withdraw prosecution but no such applications are made by the state government, the High Court directed the state government to make such applications within two weeks from the date of the order.

In case of any pending application before the Aurangabad bench, the Court directed the Government Pleader to furnish it to the Registrar of the bench within two weeks from the date of the order.

The bench further directed the state government to file an affidavit with respect to other cases pending before the committee for consideration, to expedite those cases and submit a report for consideration of the Court by June 15. The Court said that further directions would be given pursuant to filing of affidavit by the State Government. Finally, the Court made it clear that the process of implementing the resolutions shall not be stopped by the committee and prompt action in right perspective shall be taken at the earliest.

The order dated April 12, 2022 may be read here: 

As many as 31 prominent members of the society have urged the State Home Minister, Shri Dilip Walse Patil to close the FIRs/criminal prosecutions filed against civilian protesters involved in peaceful, democratic protest in Mumbai against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the National Population Register (NPR) and the nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC) between January and February 2020. They request the Maharashtra Government to immediately and unconditionally take back and withdraw the protest cases along with any other criminal cases initiated by the Mumbai Police and request that in the meantime, no coercive action whatsoever be taken in these criminal cases.

The letter dated April 22, 2022 may be read here:



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